The music business has changed drastically over the years and since the 60’s band and artists have always relied on getting signed to record labels, management and publishers and many still do today.
So what has changed?
The Internet has changed everything, with digital mp3 sites popping up in vast numbers every year which allows artists and small digital labels to release and promote their own music, bypassing the big records labels. I still think that the bigger record companies are an essential part of an artists career, taking them to the next level. However, most record companies prefer the artist to develop their own career by online promotion with social networking sites, digital distribution, online radio stations, blogs and websites. In fact, there are so many avenues available to the musician, band and artist today.
If you work hard at your own promotion and marketing online and build up a massive fan base over time then you are most likely on the radar of big record companies, publishers and managers, but you will have to firstly make killer music and then do all the online promotion and marketing to build your fan base.
As some of you already know my main experience is with dance and electronic music and over the years I have released several underground tracks and have had some success with a few projects. In the 90’s I looked after my own publishing which was a task but I managed to learn the ropes with the MCPS and PRS as I had a track licensed to a big selling compilation and took the plunge with registering with the collection societies. I would advise you to either find a publisher if you can because there are plenty of forms to fill in although today its all done online when you register your music. It’s fairly straightforward but can be time consuming when really you want to be spending time on the creative process. This just adds another task to the ongoing jobs you need to do yourself but if you have time then it pays off as you can keep 100% of your royalties. A good publisher will work for you and chase royalties worldwide from every angle possible but they normally take a percentage. Some companies take 50% and others take 30%. I have managed to find a publishing company that takes 30% leaving me with 70% and they also push your work and pitch your music to TV, film and media so there are many benefits with signing to a publisher.
If you want to release your own music then the Internet is the place to search for digital distributors. There are many including CD Baby and Tunecore which are the most popular. If you want to get your music on iTunes worldwide and Amazon, Spotify, Emusic and many more then these companies help you do this at a small price. They only charge you a fee to upload a single or album and you keep all the sales revenue.
Online radio stations are a great way to get your music heard and I have found that Last FM and Jango have some really great ways of promoting your music. I have used Jango recently and found it quite effective but you do need to pay for plays. I would advise for you to go for 1000 credits which is fairly cheap. Their prices are on the website. Your music on Jango will rotate with artists that are similar to yours. You can set this up on the site when you register and upload your music. Listeners can also become a fan of your music and Jango will send you an email stating their name and location. Some fans can leave you an email address which is very handy for building your fan base. You can also send 3 bulk messages to your fans every week from the Jango dashboard which is also a great way of keeping in touch with them. You could offer them free downloads from time to time to keep them hooked. Once you have them worshiping the ground you walk on then they will tell all their friends about your music.
Soundcloud is also another great website to upload your music for the world to hear. Most big artists are on there. There is a free account but it has a limited upload time and you can’t post your music into the many groups that are listed on the site. I advise that you buy one of the premium accounts on offer as you have more upload time and you can post your music to groups which will bring you more listeners. Soundcloud also includes many apps which can be run alongside the site. You can also download a Soundcloud app for the iPad which is great.
There is one more site that I recommend for artists that want to sell music. Vibedeck is an unbelievable site for artists as it is free. You can upload and sell your music and they won’t charge you a penny. They only charge for the additional services which include 60 second previews, branded player etc. you can also embed the code into your website where it enables your fans to purchase your music, donate or download for free, whichever you choose. You must have a PayPal account with Vibedeck as you won’t get paid otherwise.
There are plenty more ways to promote and market your music online and there are too many to list here. The sites and methods listed in my article are just a few that I have tried and found effective, so get producing and promoting your way to a profitable and successful career in music.